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Peter Fowler at the Christian Witness Ministries Wsite
Christian Witness Ministries

Peter Fowler writes to Philip Powell
Vanguard Magazine
Dear Philip

I am writing to thank you for the assistance and support you have provided, since I first contacted you in March*1 about my allegations that I was sexually abused by Frank Houston in 1972.
 
I had successfully blocked the memory of the sexual abuse which I suffered thirty years ago as a teenager, when I was a member of the Lower Hutt Assembly of God in New Zealand. This memory of those events only emerged again during therapy in 1997. However, at that time I did not feel ready to share this further or seek any form of reconciliation. However, earlier this year *3 I felt an overwhelming need to achieve some form of healing and closure to this terrible situation. After an Internet search revealed your published investigation of Houston and his past actions, I became aware that he had been removed from the ministry for "serious moral failure" in both Australia and New Zealand. I sensed that I was clearly not the only victim of this man's abuse and that I needed to come forward and reveal what had happened to me. From the moment I first contacted you I felt that you treated my allegations with a sense of respect and sympathy, which I greatly appreciate.
 
Had it not been for the detailed investigations which you have published, I may not have been able to make contact with you, nor benefit from the many people within the Christian community who have offered their support and understanding, especially Rev. Barney Coombs in Canada and Pastor Don Barry in Hamilton, NZ.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your help and to up-date you on the progress of my attempts to achieve some sense of resolution.
 
In April*2 I engaged a lawyer in Auckland to contact the NZ AoG regarding my allegations, seeking a meeting with them with a view to discuss possible compensation. The AoG lawyers advised my lawyer  that Houston was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's but that the church would investigate my allegations. They advised that they were sending a senior member of their executive to Sydney to meet with Houston's representatives and that they would respond after they had considered the outcome of their enquiries.

However, after several months all we received was a letter from the lawyers representing the AoG dated 27 September 2002, which questioned my memory of the precise dates and peripheral circumstances surrounding my allegations.  Essentially, they were questioning the validity of my allegations and using this to delay any serious response. They have also consistently declined to meet me or accept my offer to assist them with their investigation.

On  the 27th of November 2002,  I wrote directly to Neil Hetrick, who is currently the General Secretary of the NZ AoG and was also a Pastor who I knew thirty years ago at the Lower Hutt AoG.  I asked him to assist me in my quest for justice and to at least listen to my allegations. I have attached a copy of his response, which is devoid of sympathy, charity or any sense of pastoral understanding and care.
However this response is consistent with how the AoG has handled this matter from the very start.
I have responded with a letter to Wayne Hughes, who is the General Superintendent, a copy of which is also attached. 
 
For the past nine months I have attempted *4 to deal with this confidentially.  However the Assemblies of God in New Zealand refuse to meet with me or to provide an adequate response to my allegations. I am therefore left with no option but to seek public support. In this regard, I would be grateful if you would publish my correspondence with both Neil Hetrick and Wayne Hughes. The Sydney Morning Herald and Television New Zealand, who are investigating Hillsong and Houston respectively, have also contacted me.

It is now my hope that public exposure will help to create a supportive environment in which other victims may feel able to join me in the search for justice. Perhaps only then, all of us, including Houston, can begin the long process of healing lives damaged by sexual abuse and the terrible breach of trust we placed in a minister of God.
 
Yours sincerely
Peter Fowler

9th December 2002


*1 2002
*2 2002
*3 2002
*4 Correspondence "to and fro" linked in this letter

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